Usually, you hear a song, you love the tune, but you completely disregard the lyrics. You just try to channel your inner rock star and sing along to the chorus, right? Well, what if I told you some of your favorite songs have some really messed up lyrics?
1. Green Day – Wake Me Up When September Ends
This song became a meme about remembering to wake up Billy Joe on the last day of September. The music video made it seem like the song has a military theme; however, it is actually dedicated to Billy Joe’s father, who died when the Green Day frontman was a child.
“Like my father’s come to pass
Twenty years has gone so fast
Wake me up when September ends.”
2. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
While the tune is very catchy and upbeat, the song lyrics tell us a whole different story. You don’t even have to analyze the whole text, just the chorus is plenty. More and more American schoolchildren suffer from mental disorders caused, among other things, by bullying from their classmates. And sometimes, the situation rapidly spins out of control. The band wanted to spotlight this issue, but the message flew right over most people’s heads.
“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you better run, better run faster than my bullet.”
3. Eagles – Hotel California
The most famous Eagles song is not an advertisement for a certain hotel and does not tell about weary travelers who decided to stay overnight. Don Henley admitted that it is about the self-destruction and greed that are inherent in many representatives of the music industry. He also noted that the song is dedicated to the notorious American dream. Now the lyrics about never being able to leave the hotel make a lot more sense.
“You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave.”
4. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.
This song is not the patriotic “anthem” of the United States you all think it is. Bruce Springsteen has clarified its real meaning in numerous interviews. If you give it a thorough read, you’ll realize that the song talks about the man the country sent to fight in Vietnam and the scars (mental and physical) that came back with him from the war.
“Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man.”
5. Clash – London Calling
Many fans believe that Clash criticized the British government in the song London Calling, but in reality, everything is much simpler. In 1979, local newspapers gave their readers a scare saying that the Thames could overflow and flood London due to global warming. So the song actually reflects Mick Jones’ fear of drowning.
“The ice age is coming, the sun’s zooming in
Meltdown expected, the wheat is growing thin
Engines stop running, but I have no fear
‘Cause London is drowning
I live by the river.”
6. Bon Jovi – Always
A romantic rock ballad about eternal love? You wish! So many people think the lyrics are about loyalty, but go on, give it another glance. The guy in the song is actually a creepy stalker, a sick man! Even Jon Bon Jovi agrees with that. By the way, the same goes for Every Breath You Take by The Police.
“What I’d give to run my fingers through your hair
Touch your lips, to hold you near,
When you say your prayers, try to understand
I’ve made mistakes, I’m just a man.”
7. Pearl Jam – Last Kiss
Initially, this song sounds cute and bittersweet. The characters are kissing for the last time like they’re going their separate ways, but then Pearl Jam hits you right in the feels. In the next verse, we find out that there was an accident. The vehicle spun out and crashed, but the driver managed to survive. The passenger was not as lucky.
“We were out on a date in my daddy’s car
We hadn’t driven very far
There in the road, up straight ahead
A car was stalled, the engine was dead
I couldn’t stop, so I swerved to the right
I’ll never forget the sound that night
The screamin’ tires, the bustin’ glass
The painful scream that I heard last.”
8. U2 – One
No, this song is not about unity; quite the opposite. In the book U2 by U2, Bono says that there were never any hippie messages of all-encompassing love and life together in “One,” which is weird considering the song’s title. It turns out that we’ve been mishearing an essential line that goes like this:
“We’re one, but we’re not the same
Well, we hurt each other, then we do it again.”
Many people hear “we carry each other,” and this fundamentally changes the whole meaning.